Sewbrum 2016

Hello lovely ladies and gents

I’m writing this post on my journey home from Birmingham after an epic day in the company of 100 stylish sewists.

Last night involved lots of curry and champers as we celebrated our engagement with some close friends and like an idiot I stayed up later than expected. My bus was at 7am this morning so I armed myself with a flask of tea, hours of podcasts and huddled into my seat. I wore my red SOI Vintage Shirtdress for the day.

Just after getting off the megabus I managed to bump into Abi on the way to the Edwardian Tearooms and we arrived to a scene of a room stacked with sewists drinking tea and gossiping. I met some new faces which is half the reason for attending and then forcibly dragged a group around the market and Barry’s – including a selfie pitstop at my favourite sign.

There was lots of banter with Kate and RachelCharlotteNina and Gabby. I finally got to meet Fiona. And yes I cuddled a pug and larked around with Elle, Abi, Vicki and Rhiannon. There was a flying catch up with Lauren and baby Sophia wearing the Liberty cord dress Lauren blogged recently. Plus I manage to shout hello and wave at lots of lovely people like ClaireRachelHelen and many more. Not forgetting that I have about 20 new blogs to follow!

I was actually very reserved with what I brought home. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my major geek out at the release of Gertie’s new Butterick 6380 in America. Well it’s finally here in the UK and was part of the sale on at Fancy Silk Store (for all Butterick patterns – new and old). I also bought some graphic black and white viscose from a stall outside on the rag market for just £1 a metre!

Other things that made it into my handbag for the journey home were a copy of New Look 6434, a flyer for the Dressmaker’s Ball 2017, two hilarious vintage wedding dress patterns (thanks Kate!) which may actually have some potential, a flask filled with cider and a copy of the stylist fashion special magazine.

All in all a pretty cracking day! Will I see you there next year??

Beyond Measure open day 

It’s been a busy busy week but it’s nice to be writing a blog post. It’s press week so I’m very manic and I keep forgetting to get up for glasses of water. Plus I’m testing a pattern for work because it’s got a fun design detail that I wanted to try out myself.

Enough about that though!! Today I wanted to talk a little about the Beyond Measure open day that Ruth and I attended last weekend. Ooh two Ruth mentions in two posts. But I’ve just managed to delete ALL my photos from my phone while trying to upload them. I could shout out something naughty but I’ll resist. Fingers crossed Grace doesn’t mind me sharing her pictures.

almond rock beyond measure

So when Grace mentioned at the Sewing Weekender that her Todmorden studio was opening its doors, it was too good a chance to miss. Tod can be found just outside Hebden Bridge and has plenty of similar charms. Having worked in Mytholmroyd (two train stops away) for 7 years and with friends in Hebbers I know the train route well. It’s about an 1hr 10 from Leeds and 45 mins from Manchester.

Beyond Measure is roughly a 10 minute walk from the station and thankfully Saturday was a lovely sunny day. As it’s not a shop I’m not sure how it looks normally, but Grace had set up the space with mannequins, piles of fabric bundles and tall end-bolts, and of course several racks and trays of pretty haberdashery and tools.

almond rock beyond measure

almond rock beyond measure almond rock beyond measure

On display there was the well known Sajou and Merchant and Mills supplies, plus the gorgeous tweed, leather and wood pincushions she’s had made locally. Large jars of vintage buttons and toggles sat on turquoise shelves. I loved the handmade ceramic buttons, each slightly unique. We had chance to chat to one of the talented designers who made the pincushions and laughed about how he didn’t really know anything about the sewing industry but throughly enjoyed his work. He was humble and friendly, having brought his daughter on a day trip to see his products in Grace’s store.

almond rock beyond measure

almond rock beyond measure

almond rock beyond measure

There was a also tempting amount of wool of offer which Grace had sourced from a Lancashire mill. Offcuts and end bolts, plus colour coordinated bundles. I succumbed to some smooth soft and almost glossy boucle wool with flecks of colour running through. It was £30 for a 1.6m piece, enough for a short jacket I think. I also picked up something for a Christmas present… enough said about that (spies everywhere).

We spent a good portion of the day gossiping with Grace and her lovely friend Tinkering Textiles about all sort of things and nibbling on the MOST DELICIOUS honey chocolate flapjack before fully giving in to hunger and having a nice lunch at the local Co-op cafe. Mmmm spiced potato and spinach wraps yummy.

almond rock beyond measure

almond rock beyond measure

Grace’s eye for detail and quality is paired perfectly with her design aesthetic and she has curated her shop to include beautiful, intriguing and charming pieces. Handcrafted items can often be seen as a luxury to own and so there’s a small hurdle to overcome about whether you can indulge but think about it. What value do you place on your garments? I hope you believe in the worth of the hours you’re giving over to your craft. Any guilt should be momentary as your buying something from a talented craftsperson that you know will last. And will definitely have more personality. Food for though hopefully.

almond rock beyond measure

I’ll be back soon with some thoughts on wedding dresses and how I’m attempting to edit my eclectic style into one dress.

The Sewing Weekender

Hello everybody! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I’m now on the hunt for amazing fabric suppliers in the UK and will write a little round up soon about my plans. I’ve just got back from a last minute holiday where I did a lot of plotting for how to share snippets of my diy wedding dress.

I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts on the recent Sewing Weekender hosted by Rachel and Kate of The Foldline and Charlotte of blog English Girl At Home and what I made. There were a limited number of spots so I count myself lucky to have nabbed one. I didn’t think my boss would mind too much if I bunked off for five mins to buy myself one as a birthday treat. To be fair he probably never realised.

When 57 attendees arrived in sunny oCambridge we were met by an amazing sight; goodie bags being handed out as you stepped in with treats from Village HaberdasheryLove SewingRemnant Kings and Abakhan, Janome machines set up on large tables with ribbon tied boxes of haberdashery from Adam Ross, swap items stacked high and enough tea and coffee to keep us charged all day.

I sat on a table of four with my friend Ruth who travelled down from Yorkshire to meet new sewing friends (I definitely recommend following her on twitter) and Sarah who I’ve enjoyed following online, who headed over from Suffolk with her mum! I feel like such an idiot but I can’t remember Sarah’s mum’s name. I hate it when that happens but it’s best to just hold your hands up and be honest about these things.

It was like the shirt table as there were two shirts and a shirtdress being sewn, but I bucked the trend by sitting and hand sewing while gossiping. I’d decided to finish my new circle skirt Cambie with matching bias tape which I pieced from 20 scrap bits of my fabric. Thankfully I got everything finished and Ruth kindly snapped some pics for me which I’ll share at the end of the post but here’s a cheeky pic of me and Louise in our Cambies together! (Don’t you love her use of border print cotton from Gertie’s fabric line?).

The Saturday was dedicated to sewing and everyone busied themselves with different projects whilst “Prefects” wandered around offering advice, fitting help and biscuit-based support, there was a fabric and pattern swap, lovely lunchtime walk into Cambridge and for the overnight crew a dinner in town. I stayed with my in-laws to be so we could celebrate the engagement with the whole Scarr family which meant sadly missed out on that last part. It’s so funny but after 6 and a half years dating a Cambridge man I have still never been punting and only a handful of times to the town centre!!

Sunday was structured around lectures that were funny, insightful, thought-provoking and educational. The clever and charming women who spoke were RachelGraceMarillaElenaTilly and Gabby, talking about wardrobe planning, pattern design, small design businesses and vlogging to touch on a few topics. There was no need for sewing as the lectures were thoroughly engaging. One thing that resonated with me was cataloguing my stash for better planning and so I’ve begun adding scraps on a keyring of index cards. I also thought a lot about my wedding dress plans and what I’d like to achieve and learn from the project because it really needs to be a learning experience for me as corny as that may sound.

So I won’t cover what others have said but I would like to heartedly recommend that you get a ticket for the next Sewing Weekender (we’ve totally badgered the girls into considering a repeat) and am honestly in awe of Charlotte, Kate and Rachel’s organisational skills.

Ok, now here’s my dress. I know you’ve seen Cambie dresses frome me before (here and here) but I wanted to try adding a circle skirt to the pattern to see how it looked. 

Answer? I’m pretty damn happy with it. But I’m also very into circle skirts at the moment. It’s a little bulky around the pockets so maybe should have been omitted but hey, I like pockets. Again I omitted the waistband and used a straight neckline. A 22″ concealed purple zipper for a bit of fun too.

 The dress is fully lined in anti-static peach lining which means it’s tights-friendly and the skirt lining adds extra volume. The hem as I mentioned is bias faced and invisibly hand stitched. I only wish I had horsehair braid in my stash to finish the hem with!

I cannot believe I found some Liberty Carline poplin in purple (variations seen here and here by me) at Birmingham Rag Market… I blumming love that place. Spotted during an awesome mini shop with Marie, Kat, Roisin and Helen (guest appearance from Sabs) a few months back. It was £8 per metre because it had a big flaw parallel to a good portion the selvedge about 10cm in but because it’s so wide I just bought some extra material and worked around it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Here’s some silly bonus pics of it in action on holiday! Until next time everyone, drop me comments with your best score on a fabric shopping trip!! 

The Happiest Anna Dress

Hello hello! I’ve got a few things to share today so I’ll try not to ramble.

First up, my Anna obsession continues with a new version of the By Hand London pattern. This is my third attempt with a gathered skirt and numerous fitting tweaks. I’ve reduced the gaping at the front and back and added a little more room under the arms.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

The fabric is a luscious viscose challis from Elliott Berman Textiles in NYC that I bought on my trip earlier this year. When I saw the vivid florals I ran straight over to the bolt and it’s the best quality viscose I’ve felt. Apparently it’s Italian which is a shame I went to America for European fabric but I’d never have found it over here.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

Sizing-wise it’s a crazy hybrid of three sizes. I used 2m of fabric, kept the neckline facing and used black bias binding for the armholes. Gosh I luuuurve it. I wore it out for an early birthday dinner on Friday with my family and it was very forgiving when I ate ALL THE FOOD. Plus the fizz we drank. Oops, thank goodness for gathered waist dresses. I wore it again on Saturday night to a friend’s 40th party – who else does this when they’re obsessed over a new make??

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

On Sunday I was surprised by an early birthday present as my lovely partner Jimi proposed… while I was wearing my star print Anna dress! (Still to blog annoyingly so here’s a terribly cropped pic of it.) We then ran off for a stay at Oulton Hall spa to get pampered and eat a load more delicious food. Seriously though it’s been overwhelming how many lovely comments we’ve received about the news. Did you know Jimi and I have been together as long as I’ve been sewing? We’d been together only a short while before I started evening classes and he’s always been my personal cheerleader, enabler and photographer. And although we are already fiercely committed to each other and marriage won’t change that, planning a wedding and our life together once we’re hitched is too wonderful to put into words right now.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

As if the weekend wasnt going fantastically enough, I was also lucky enough to receive a vintage treadle sewing machine and a complete copy of Ann Ladbury’s Liberty dressmaking book with patterns for 12 garments inside. Check out the video of my machine on Instagram! Plus I was gifted some delicious gin (Adnams of Southwold and cucumber gin – perfect for a machine-side drink), sewing vouchers, new converse and perfume. Phew!

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

So I still have several garments to blog so this my site won’t end up completely wedding-centric. Chatting to a few people this weekend at the epic Sewing Weekender hosted by the Foldline and English Girl At Home there was some interest in me sharing my handmade wedding dress plans. Because yes I’m definitely going to attempt making the dress. Though deciding what to make is seeming impossible right now. Stay tuned for more about the Sewing Weekender first though hehehe.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

Also if you have any books or sites you’d like to recommend for working with bridal fabrics or diy weddings please leave them in the comments. I do know quite a few bloggers have made their dresses so will be going back to those posts. So for now here’s me and my future hubby looking mature and responsible as 32 year olds.

almond rock anna dress by hand london elliott berman textiles

Whistles Anna

Happy Sunday everyone. Hope you had a lovely weekend. Mine involved a day at the races, drinking cold wine in the sunshine with friends and dancing to silly music. And a bit of sewing which resulted in a finished dress yippee.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

So this is my third Anna dress from By Hand London but the first to make it to the blog. My first was to check the fit and made me realise I needed to make some adjustments to the bodice. I tried to fix the gaping back neckline (same as everyone has had to do it seems) which worked and I tried to fix the front neckline from gaping which didn’t really work.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

The pleats are so pretty around the bust and I love the kimono sleeves.I actually swapped out the traditional skirt for the Emery skirt. I really love how swishy it is. Everything is just overlocked and sewn on the inside rather than French seamed and I used a concealed zipper. The sleeves are hemmed with bias tape.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

My fabric is an ex-Whistles lyocel viscose which you might recognise from Katie’s blog here and here! We both grabbed it from Fabric Mart in Walthamstow when we had a lovely little fabric crawl last year.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

And I gotta tell you, it feels so fricking amazing to wear. Why oh why didn’t I buy myself double the amount. The lyocel makes it feel like silk and have the slight sheen similar to the real thing too. What’s more it cost £3 a metre and then I heard through the grapevine that Whistles used this exact fabric for a £110 dress.

almond rock by hand london whistles anna dress

Phew. So there’s my dress. I need to get pictures of my first Anna (the star print one you may have seen on instagram) and I need to decide what to do with my recent teal floral one which had a circle skirt (AMAZING) but was a horror to hem and I ended up trimming it indecently short (TERRIBLE). I wonder, do you know anyone with my exact measurements except 5 inches shorter!?